The biggest college basketball game in the nation on Saturday was, undoubtedly, Kentucky’s double overtime win against Texas A&M. The Wildcats were 14-0 at the time and some pundits believe they have a chance to run the table. This game led every college basketball-related segment on Sportscenter, stole every headline.
Yet, in a small gym in a small town, where admission was free and the players played without scholarships or draft prospects, no game was more important than the one between Division III rivals Williams and Amherst - no shot as vital as the three Williams center Ryan Kilcullen made with less than five seconds to go to put the Ephs up by one point.
It’s called the Biggest Little Game in America for a reason. Though neither has the pedigree or pro success as Kentucky, the rivalry has made its mark on college sports. In 1859, Amherst and Williams played the first intercollegiate baseball game (Amherst squeaked by Williams in that pitching duel, with a final score of 73-32). In 2007, their annual football game was chosen as the site for College Gameday. Last season, the two met in the Final Four, where Williams ended an 8-game losing streak against their rivals to reach the National Championship game.
All of this is to say that neither Williams nor Amherst are particularly special in this regard. College basketball - and college sports in general - have always been a common ground. The rim is always 10 feet high, the field 100 yards long, and the rivalries as bitter and cherished anywhere.
In Williamstown, MA, Kentucky beating the Aggies was little more than an afterthought, and it's what makes college sports great: the great moments are, to the players, fans, and families involved, no greater than the biggest little ones.